KEVIN RUDD has stirred leadership rumblings by saying on national television last night that the country faced a stark choice at the next election and he would not be silenced from speaking out on myriad issues.
With the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, on leave grieving her dead father, Mr Rudd, in China to attend the World Economic Forum, told the ABC's 7.30 program Ms Gillard could win the next election, but only after he was asked for a third time.
He said the government and the opposition had two contrasting views for the nation's future and ''my job is to make clear that contrast''.
''We've all got a job to get out there and argue the case.''
Mr Rudd has lifted his public activities visibly in recent weeks, campaigning in Queensland against state government public sector job cuts.
His key supporters have not given up on a push for the leadership before Christmas but concede the polls need to dip to create momentum. They are now talking about trying to stir things in October.
The former prime minister played down suggestions he was grandstanding, saying as a member of the government facing the prospect of Tony Abbott winning the next election, he was bound, like all his colleagues, to ''lend my shoulder to the wheel''.
''I've got a responsibility to get out there and argue the case at home and abroad,'' he said.
''I'll do it anywhere and everywhere I can.
''My views won't be silenced in the public debate because the issues for Australia are so stark.''
Just before Mr Rudd lost the leadership in 2010, he vowed he would not lurch to the right in asylum-seeker policy. With Labor having now embraced the Pacific solution, Mr Rudd said as a member of the government, he supported government policy.
In a pointed message to his supporters, Mr Rudd heaped all the praise for handling the policy switch on the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, one of his strongest backers who Mr Rudd was going to make treasurer had he won the February coup.
''I respect very much the judgment of Chris Bowen. I support the judgment of the minister, Chris Bowen, it's a complex and difficult task,'' Mr Rudd said.
''He's applied good heart and good mind to it.''
Xi absence storm in
a teacup, says Rudd